This week Scott and I were all set to arrive ON TIME and not miss any warm-up exercises. When we made it to downtown Ithaca we heard the sound of a TRAIN. Yup, the very long train they had warned commuters about was coming through an hour and a half later than expected. We were behind it.
8 minutes later, we were able to arrive just moments after 7 pm due to a combinations of aggressive driving and decent light timing. Luckily a couple other participants were stuck behind it too so we had some company in our arrival. I don’t do being late very well, so I was bumming but thrilled that we only missed the first few warm-up exercises.
This workout was a ladder. Adam sent it to us and just listing it off made me scared. I was telling my co-worker (a cross country and indoor track coach) about it during our 6th grade lunch duty. “We have to run a 200/400/600/800/600/400/200.” I said. “How long is the recovery?” he asked. “Equal distances.” “One of my favorite workouts,” he replied with a smile. He then went on to talk about a student who was incredible at the 600, describing her flying around the track. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be flying around the track.
Should it stay or should it go?
Adam said if we weren’t routinely hitting 25-30 miles a week we could drop the 800. That was a bit of a quandary for me. I did hit 27 miles last week but only 17.5 the prior week. Scott and I recently took a month off running (my first time doing something like that) and getting back into it has been harder than I expected. Most of my group was below the mileage threshold so I decided to drop the 800 along with them. There were a couple of people from our 7 min mile crew doing the 800 and of course today I look back and think, “I should have done that.” Aah, regret. In the moment I had no such feeling.
We were asked to run repeat pace which was about 50 seconds for the 200, 1:45 for the 400 and so on in increments of 50 seconds. This week I was smart and re-set my stopwatch at the start of each interval so that I could follow along. I had a little pattern. I’d look at my watch right before the halfway point in the loop and then again as we neared the last turn. It helped me stay on track even though I had people to pace from. There was one 400 where the group took it fast, about 5 seconds too fast. I finished at exactly at 1:45 just as Tonya was saying they had taken it too fast. I’m so new to this that while I could tell they were going too fast and could have hollered something out to them I stayed quiet in case they had a strategy.
Last week our ladder had us topping out at a 400. I was SO afraid of that 400 each time it came. This week just thinking about the 600 had me scared. However, in the moment it became more of a fun challenge than the 400. Could I hang with the group for the last lap? Could I run mostly even splits? This felt mathematical and fun. As I rounded each corner of the 600 I started to understand why kids who do indoor track improve so much in their cross country and track seasons. It is a game of mental fortitude. It requires that you stay in the moment and give everything you have both physically and mentally.
Tonya talked about how she approached it in musical fashion. She views each loop as a measure and went on with this language describing the beauty of the running. As she was talking I was thinking, “I’m really more about surviving” but in fact I was surviving just fine.
In these past two weeks I’ve grown to love and embrace the recovery. In fact, one of my favorite things about the recovery last night was that we had two reps where we got to recover for 3 loops. It allows for more casual conversation, and it is nice for me to see just how slow we can take recovery. On my own I struggle to recover slow enough and that makes each successive repeat that much harder. We talked about work, travels, race reports, anxiety about running. Tonya shared about an article about stress and running on Runner’s World that is worth a read. I checked it out right away as I feel a lot of stress in short distance racing (prior to this winter short distance meant a 5K).
Cool Down and Viva!
Following our 10 minute cool-down we stayed for the core exercises this week. I was super happy to be there for these very helpful after workout exercises. Adam hurt his ankle so he has to lead us without doing them now (and I’m so sad for him because he loves to run and now has to lead us while injured). They took about 15 minutes and then Scott and I headed to Viva. This ends late for us (8:15 ish) and normally we go home and get to bed, but the way the day went we hadn’t had time to eat dinner. Both of our kids had plans that evening (Xander had an All County Chorus rehearsal and Elizabeth had to teach piano) so we reasoned we’d be getting home right as they went to bed anyway, why not tack on 1/2 hour for a quick dinner at our favorite restaurant? A quick shout out to Scott’s dad – he picked Xander up from All-County for us so we could both go tonight!! Thanks Ed.
We scooted down the hill, nabbed a decent parking spot and enjoyed a lovely meal. Our friend Scott was our waiter which is always extra fun! Of course today we’re paying for being up til 10 – EXHAUSTED!! But it felt like a totally great choice last night.